A matter of taste: The role of compatibility in mate preferences in great tits

PhD defence

A matter of taste: The role of compatibility in mate preferences in great tits

PhD candidate Lies ECA (Lies) Zandberg MSc
Promotor prof.dr. M (Marc) Naguib
Co-promotor dr. CA (Camilla) Hinde
CHJ (Kees) van Oers
Organisation Wageningen University, Behavioural Ecology, Wageningen Institute of Animal Sciences (WIAS)
Date

Fri 2 November 2018 16:00 to 17:30

Venue Auditorium, building number 362
Generaal Foulkesweg 1
362
6703 BG Wageningen
0317-483592

Summary

Choosing a partner is very important, not only for humans, but also for animals. While in humans we think of partner choice as a matter of taste, in animals we still assume that all individuals prefer the mate of the highest quality. However, rather than choosing the universally best individual, animals may actually prefer the mate that fits them best: a compatible mate.

In this thesis I have investigated the role of compatibility in mate preferences in wild great tits. I uniquely combined measurements of mate preference in the lab with actual mate choice in the field and the reproductive consequences of preference and choice, to better understand the role of pair compatibility in sexual selection. And indeed, I found that instead of having the same preference for the highest quality mate, great tits actually differed in what they looked for in a mate. Additionally if they succeeded in finding a partner they preferred, these compatible pairs were better parents.